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Lerwick anticipates record-breaking cruise season with 12 maiden calls

Lerwick Harbour
Lerwick Harbour is looking forward to welcoming record cruise ship numbers during its 2019 season PHOTO: John Coutts
Lerwick Harbour is embarking upon another anticipated record-breaking cruise season with several new initiatives lined-up to welcome passengers ‘Shetland style’ over the next eight months.

The first arrival of 2019, Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Astoria has just arrived en route between Torshavn, Faroe, and Kirkwall, Orkney, on her return to Poole, England, from an Iceland & Northern Lights cruise. She will visit twice more this season.

112 ships due to visit

There are 112 ships booked to call at Lerwick by end-of-season on October 1, an 18% increase on the 2018 record. A higher percentage of small to mid-sized ships means passenger numbers will be similar to last year with the arrival of over 90,000 visitors.

The 12 maiden calls will include Cunard’s Queen Victoria, Pullmantur’s Zenith and MSC Cruises’ MSC Preziosa, the largest vessel to visit this year, at 139,072gt and capacity for over 3,500 passengers.

'The continuing increase in activity is giving added impetus to the welcome of passengers and crews throughout Shetland,' said Lerwick Port Authority Cruise Manager, Melanie Henderson. 'We’ve stepped up a gear this year, with an expanded onshore programme of things to see-and-do and sessions further developing the islands’ service sector.'

Meet the maker

'New experiences and tour offerings for 2019 include "meet the maker" opportunities with local food and arts & crafts producers giving the chance to get "up close and personal" with our friendly Shetland ponies, as well as golf, garden explorations and tours of film locations seen in the popular "Shetland" TV crime series.'

To help Shetland businesses maximise opportunities in the cruise sector, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, in partnership with Lerwick Port Authority, Shetland Islands Council and Visit Scotland, held a two-day workshop to increase local awareness of the opportunities to work with the cruise sector and encourage development of products and services. As a result, there are number of local businesses working through action plans to deliver new tourism experiences.

The Port Authority’s promotional programme includes support for the Cruise Scotland marketing organisation and participation at various international cruise trade events throughout the year, including Seatrade Cruise Europe in Hamburg in September. With 98 ships scheduled for 2020 and 32 already booked for 2021, advance bookings continue to show positive signs of growth.